We slid into the room and Step-up began checking out the next doorway while Poot called out for a quick check on spells and equipment. "I'm running a little bit low on anything useful but I'm okay for now," Neverwas answered.
"Still full up," Icarus said as he began searching through the burnt remains of the Fiendish Rat Swarm. "Anyone else find it odd that everything in here has been described with fiendish features?"
I haven't used a spell yet, Poot. What do you mean, Icarus?
"Well think about it. The Darkmantles had horns and red glowing eyes. E slipped and outright told us the rats were."
The orcs weren't.
"No," Biggboy said, "they weren't, but I'm thinking Icarus might well be onto something there."
Should I start blessing our water?
"Wouldn't work," Icarus said. "Holy water only affects evil outsiders and undead."
Fair enough. So how does this fiendish thing get transmitted?
"Sex?" Poot asked in a worried tone.
"I don't think so," Icarus said.
"Excellent," Poot boomed, "that means that we don't have to watch Biggboy around the sheep!"
"Hey, fuck you man," Biggboy laughed.
"Are we here to crack jokes or play D&D," Little E broke in.
Aren't we a in a foul mood.
"I would be too if I was about to lose a hundred dollars," Step-up said, "by the way, the doorway is cleared and so's the first ten feet out. We've got a hallway running east and west. To the east it widens out and heads back south. To the west it stays narrow and heads north. Lots of doors out there."
Icarus, you got any thoughts.
"Um," he said as he began to cup his chin in his hands, "I'm feeling like the northwest is our best bet."
"Why do you think so," E said with suspicion in his voice.
"It doesn't really matter," Poot said, "we're going southeast."
"But you just asked Icarus which way he wanted to go," E stammered.
Of course we did.
"And now we're going the opposite direction," Biggboy said as Icarus laughed. We rounded the hall and found a door to our north and a great big hall to our south. "How's the air down here," Biggboy asked E as we began to cautiously explore the room.
"It's clear with a light odor of ozone," E answered.
Step-up, I called out of reflex, did you hear that?
"Yep, I'm on it."
Step-up, Clevenger, and I made our way through the room, him in front and me a good ten feet behind with a readied healing spell and Clevenger on my heels. It was slow going and I found myself constantly wondering where the monsters were. We had made a lot of noise and nothing had come to investigate. Were they sneaking up on us from the north? Poot and Icarus were watching the approach from the way we had come while Biggboy and Neverwas kept an eye on that northern door.
Where were they?
"The room's clear," Step-up announced after he had found a door in the south and checked it. "Grab all your shit and let's move in."
I don't like this, I whispered to Poot, he's got enough money riding on this where he should be actively trying to kill us and we're about to hit our fifth room without so much as a serious threat.
"It's freaking me out too," he said in hushed tones, "I don't think that you should raise the bet anymore."
You're smelling that rat too, eh?
"It's too easy and I keep catching him smiling when he thinks we're not watching."
Yeah, I noticed that earlier.
"What are you two doing down there," E broke in.
"Trying to figure out why Best Girl still fucks you," Poot said with a smile.
"It's not easy," she said from the doorway, "but then he's got a small dick so it's not like I really feel it."
That one hurt, I said as I watch E's mouth drop open, but not nearly so bad as when she tells you how many dicks she's seen that are bigger. She held up seven fingers and bit her lip as Rudy fell off his stool laughing. I'm telling you, Poot, when she leaves this piece of shit behind I'm going to make her an honest woman.
"You think you're man enough for that, Charlie," she said with a wicked smile.
Fuck no, but after what you've had your expectations have got to be low enough that it won't matter.
"Enough of this," E practically barked. "what are you two doing."
"Following Step-up's lead of course," Poot replied with a little bow towards our master thief which drew attention to the man himself.
"Well," E growled, "what are you doing?"
"We're going into the room," Step-up said as he leaned towards Little E, "and if you don't take that base out of your voice I'm going to be using your nut sack to carry my dice."
E waved him off as he described the room to us, "There's a table, stool and bed in good condition at the far end of the room. In the center six wooden stools encircle a pile of dirt on the floor. On the table lays a skull and a backscratcher made out of some form of bone. To the east there is an open door that had it been closed would never have been found. To the west some assholes seem to have broken down a section of the wall."
Ah, that's what I like. We walk into a room and the secret door is already open and there isn't a soul in sight. Step?
"On it," Step-up called as he went through the progression inspecting the room foot by foot as I shadowed him. We were going methodically through each room expecting to find the traps that we'd been warned about but it was becoming clear to all of us that we must be on a different track than everyone else who had died in the early rooms.
"You just found another secret door," E announced as Step-up rolled a 23 Search check. "What are you going to do?"
"I'm marking it with chalk and finishing checking the rest of the room," Step-up said as I examined the backscratcher that was made of a Lizardman's spine.
"Do you want that backscratcher," Icarus asked me, "I think I could use it if you don't want it."
It's yours, sir. Do you want the Kobold skull too or should we leave it?
"I'll take it."
Fair enough. Poot, I called, you've been keeping track of our oil usage?
How long have we been down here?
"Seven and a half hours."
One more room and we'll lock ourselves up for a night's rest to replenish spells, spirits, and our bodies.
"You're keeping track of your time being active?"
Yeah, we figured that before you could punish us with a Fatigued status because we'd gone too long without rest that we would track it ourselves.
"You guys have thought this out pretty well haven't you," he said with a smirk.
You might say that, I said as I began to work my way through our checklists. Supply levels, equipment checks, spells remaining, and then I caught it. A little look between them and I knew. I knew who the rat was and I couldn't believe he would do it.
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